Title: The Ask and the Answer
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking
Page count: 517 pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
***Please note that I have tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but I still recommend reading at your own risk.
Quick summary: the Chaos Walking series is a YA future dystopia. Set on a different planet, it`s the story of Todd Hewitt, who is from the first generation of children to be born and raised on the planet. The planet has had some unfortunate (for humans) side effects, in that men`s thoughts can be seen/heard by literally everyone (called Noise). The same side effect means you can talk to animals, as well. Only women don`t have it.
The series deals with gender politics, racism, slavery, the problems of growing up, the meaning of war, and other societal and human problems, although it never does so in a teaching or belittling way. In fact, if you don`t look very very closely it`s really mostly a very interesting story.
I already loved the first book in the series, The Knife of Never Letting Go. That one was such a thrilling read, one big rollercoaster of twists and turns and ups and downs. You really travel along with Todd on this strange journey through New World. I loved how Ness first established a different world with set rules and ideas and had you buy them all, just to turn everything upside down.
The second book, in comparison, felt much more adult. Todd and Viola are definitely growing up, but after the traumatic experiences of the first book, growing up is no easy task (if it ever was to begin with). With everything around them escalating quickly, the two of them forced to be apart, and countless attempts at using them and setting them up against each other, things just get more and more tense and frustrating.
What I absolutely loved about this, is the development of the characters. While the story does feel like it`s going around in circles at times, the characters themselves are developing further. They have very human responses to the horrors surrounding them, and the way both they themselves, their situations, and their responses to the situations change is fascinating to witness.
The story itself, too, while going around in circles, is still fascinating. It really shows what people in desperate situations are capable of, and how different people respond to different situations. From the way some people rebel and reject change, to how others accept it for reasons their own, and yet others are too scared.
It`s in a lot of ways a very predictable story, following your average YA dystopia template that you can also see in Uglies and the Hunger Games. But, as in aforementioned series, it`s not as much the standardised storyline that makes the book interesting. It`s the development of the characters. And it`s the characters above all that make this book so interesting and good to read.
Did you read this book/series? What did you think? Do you have anything you recommend? Let me know down in the comments!
(Currently reading: To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee)